Sunday, May 10, 2009

Potpourri XXXV

You know there used to be this old-fashioned concept called "class." Class is a state of mind, more than anything else. It's the sort of attitude that says you're a person of standards, of some standing. It's the unspoken thing that tells you not to tell particular jokes in mixed company or not make a professional or political fight personal. Why? Because it's just the sort of thing that a gentleman or lady would not do. Never mind, we're a classless society now--in more ways than one--which is how a reporter can make a crack about hoping Rush Limbaugh's kidneys fail, and President Obama laughs! Really now, Mr. Obama. We expected better of you.

The Times of London has an interview with King Abdullah of Jordan. Among other bits of good news: he expects Israel to negotiate with all 57 states of the Arab League, and if there aren't negotiations, then there is going to be another Arab-Israeli next year. On the plus side, the Pope's visit is going well. Thank Heaven for small favors.

Also from the UK: The Daily Mail is reporting on the upcoming Shuttle mission as its "most dangerous" to Hubble.

Star Trek is looking at a $75 million weekend. Not a record-breaker, but it's been a long time since a Trek film made that kind of money on opening weekend. Another thought on why I liked the new movie: the lack of condescension. Some of the Next Generation movies suffered from that. Want an example? Here's Jean-Luc Picard talking to a 21st-century primitive about his (liberal) future superiority:

"No money? You mean you don't get paid?"
"Acquisition of wealth is no longer a driving force in our lives. We wish to better ourselves & the rest of humanity."

Barf. Anyhow, I hold with Malcolm Reynolds in Serenity:

"Sure as I know anything, I know this - they will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, ten? They'll swing back to the belief that they can make people... better. And I do not hold to that."

The reason I like the cast and acting of the new Star Trek is that they're recognizably human. The "We're better in the future" attitude is gone. They're still people, and I can relate to them. Just sayin'.

Jerry Pournelle always has interesting things to say about politics, and his take on the departure of Arlen Specter from the Republican Party deserves consideration if conservatives hope for their party to gain a governing majority again.

Also from Pournelle...recommend reading: The Lays of Rome, including Horatius at the Gate. Once considered part of our normal education, 60-odd years ago.

Just off the wall, but funny: The Onion has a story on Touchstone Pictures threatening to make a sequel to Coyote Ugly if box office receipts don't improve. Memorable (bowlderized) quote: "We are dead serious, you a$$#oles," Zaiff said. "You're going to like what we tell you to like, end-of-f@#$ing-story. Now fill up those seats, or so help me God, it's Coyote Ugly II: Get Uglier."

Joanne Manaster is conducting an online poll on which celebrity she looks like. She is then going to up the ante by having a computer analyze her facial features and compare them with said celebrities and see if "the wisdom of crowds" actually matches reality. My vote still goes to Lynda Carter. We'll see what the computer says.

Jeff Foust has some good stuff "from the archives" on Norm Augustine, who is chairing President Obama's panel/review of the Constellation Program and has had numerous dealings with NASA before this.

A fellow space blogger, Douglas Mallette, has some good thoughts on extending Shuttle. One must, indeed, wonder what the future of America's human space flight program is to be. I'd like to think that Augustine and his panel would keep things moving on plan, but while I do have a dog in that fight (writing for Ares), it's not my place to tell the judge that a friend's dog is better than someone else's...or do I? Here's one of those situations where Dar's hopes for a collaborative Office of Technology Assessment might come in handy.

The War is Boring blog on the U.S. Navy's concerns about China's new "carrier-killer" missiles.

I suppose I should quit there. Monday is bound to be a busy news day, and I'll be under the radar, watching it all. Peace.

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